About June last year I went on the journey of teaching myself to touch type and it really wasn’t that hard to make some excellent progress. I am convinced I don’t have any more natural ability in this area than any other person so if I can do it anyone can.
I remember learning typing at school (on typewriters) and thinking, “why am I learning this stuff? I am never going to be a secretary.” However, these days the computer is an ever present part of being a student and is essential to most careers in some form or another, not just those of receptionists and secretaries.
Many of our children may learn how to touch type without even trying but others may fall into bad habits of looking for each key on the keyboard and this becomes their default ‘go to’ whenever they need to type. Like learning how to do a backhand on the tennis court or how to hold your fingers on an instrument there is value to learning traditional tried and true approaches to these skills rather than just relying on your own instinct.
You are never too young to learn to touch type and, much like learning a musical instrument or how to ride a bike, this skill becomes what is called ‘muscle memory’ that will help your child for the rest of his or her life. The more you practice touch typing, the stronger the brain pathway becomes until there comes a time when you don’t even have to think about it.
Once you don’t have to think about which finger to use for which key, it frees your mind so you can focus on content and achieve writing goals quicker than ever before. Other benefits of touch typing are:
- Speed: Before I learnt how to touch type I thought I was a pretty decent typist averaging around 30 words per minute. Now I am averaging 65 words per minute on the latest test. I know this is not anywhere near as fast as some of you but it is twice as good as I used to be.
- Accuracy: If you are looking at the keys then you can’t see what you are typing in real time to correct mistakes as they happen.
- Less tiring: The old ‘hunt and peck’ method of typing is exhausting for long periods of time. It means you are dividing your brain between finding the right key and then having to go back to creative content writing.
- Health: Touch typing is better for your health because it creates better posture. When you are not hunched over a keyboard looking for the right key then you can sit up straight and look at the monitor rather than the keyboard.
- Productivity: The computer is a huge part of my work life but it is also a huge part of our children’s and that is not going to change any time soon. If you can input things into the computer twice as fast you can get twice as much done.
- Employability: I always thought that I would never need to learn how to type because computers would eventually become so advanced that all I would need to do is to speak the words and the computer would understand them. Well those days are now here and we have very intelligent and accurate speech to text transcription software, but still typing seems the entrenched choice to input information in a computer. For that reason, if you can touch type you have a skill you can take through your whole working life and an important edge in the jobs market.
The above reasons and the future career market are why GCC signed up for a Typing Tournament license in March last year. It’s a ten finger typing course for ages six to adult and is applicable to all devices – not just keyboards. This is being included in Primary lessons but children learn best when skills are encouraged and modelled at home.
If your child is young, it is important for all learning to be fun and there are lots of good, free programs out there that can help make touch typing fun at home. One is called TypeTastic but hunt around to find one that suits your child’s age. Just google “free typing tutor programs” and a plethora of suitable programs will come up.
Scientific research tells us that neural muscle connections are best enforced during short but regular sessions over the course of a week rather than long sessions with lots of break time in between sessions.
If you have a teenager then maybe a way forward would be to challenge them to a competition. Set a target with a nice prize and the first one to reach the target wins the prize and, more importantly, bragging rights!
Touch typing is a life skill that has the power to make the rest of your child’s life easier, healthier, enjoyable and more productive. Even though we can look at a skillful typist and think they have some kind of superpower it is not the case and excellent progress can be made with a small amount of consistent effort.
Mike Curtis, Principal